People worry about a lot of things – crime, air pollution, exposure to toxins, processed foods, and the list goes on. Despite the laundry list of concerns that people find to worry about, most people feel secure in their own homes. But what if your home is not the healthy haven you thought it to be?
Hidden Health Dangers in the Home
Each year, tens of thousands of people are hospitalized from home health hazards such as carbon monoxide poisoning, exposure to toxic chemicals, mold, and accidental pharmaceutical poisoning. While it is impossible to foresee and prevent every potential mishap, there are many ways to improve health and safety measures throughout the house.
1. Decontaminate the air.
According to research by the EPA’s Office of Research and Development, indoor air quality is 2 -5 times worse than outdoor air quality on average. This is due to a combination of factors such as dust and mold, as well as toxins and chemicals from industrial compounds found in paint and household cleaners. Here are some ways to improve the air quality in your home:
- Get your home tested for the presence of mold, carbon monoxide, and radon.
- Buy an indoor air filter.
- Switch out chemical-based cleaners for natural solutions like vinegar, baking soda, and lemon juice.
- Ventilate your home by opening doors and windows whenever possible.
- Replace paraffin candles with beeswax or vegetable-based candles.
- Reduce dust by dusting, mopping, and washing your linens regularly.
- Incorporate air-purifying plant life.
- How to Test and Improve Indoor Air Quality
2. Clean out the kitchen.
Besides switching out chemical cleaners for natural alternatives, there are other ways to clean out the kitchen. Every few months, perform a thorough purging of your pantry and medicine cabinet. Here are some things to get rid of, for the health of the whole family:
- Expired medications and prescriptions.
- Expired food, including canned goods.
- Unhealthy “junk food” and other processed foods. If it’s not in your house, your family will be much less likely to eat it.
3. Make sure you’re prepared for an emergency.
Although most of us know how to call 911, it can take emergency personnel time to come to your aid. Make sure you and your family are prepared to handle an emergency while you wait for help.
- Learn CPR and the Heimlich maneuver. Make sure all teenagers and adults in the house are also educated in emergency procedures.
- Keep a well-stocked first aid kit in an easily accessible place. Ensure that all family members know where to find it.
- Perform regular checks to make sure smoke alarms and CO detectors are working at all times.
- Keep a list of emergency phone numbers in an accessible place. It should list numbers for the following:
- Emergency medical services (911)
- Poison control center
- Hospital emergency room
- Fire department
- Police department
- Family doctor and pediatrician
- Parents’ work number
- Parents’ cellphones
- Neighbors and/or relatives
- Any known allergies or medications of family members
4. Cultivate mental and emotional well-being.
Although less obvious, there are ways that you can cultivate your emotional well-being as well as your physical health. Here are some things that have been shown to reduce stress levels and increase overall happiness:
- Plant a year-round garden, indoors or out.
- Get a pet! Studies show that pets reduce stress levels, improve cardiovascular health, and promote longevity.
- Make good sleep a priority; invest in blackout curtains and avoid electronic screens at night.
- Surround yourself with the arts. Seeing and creating art – whether it be visual, musical, or dance – works wonders for your mood.
5. Reduce toxins.
Toxic chemicals inundate the modern world, but you can reduce them in your home. Here are some ways to reduce your exposure to toxins and unhealthy chemicals.
- Drink tap water, but detoxify it first! Run it through a good filter, a water distiller, or a reverse-osmosis system.
- Use glass containers instead of plastic to store food and liquids.
- Cook with cast-iron, glass, or stainless steel instead of pans coated with synthetic polymers. Look into the new non-stick pans, made without PTFE (Teflon).
- Air out dry-cleaning before hanging it in the closet.
- Wash fruit and vegetables thoroughly before eating or serving them. Whenever possible, soak them in water containing a small amount of vinegar, lemon juice, food-grade hydrogen peroxide, or a combination of these.
- Only use natural pest control methods, never toxic pesticides.
6. Take a close look at personal care products.
Standard personal care products, from antibacterial hand soap to shampoo and hair conditioner, are known to contain harmful ingredients. Try to avoid using products that contain any of the following:
- Propyl alcohol
- Synthetic fragrances
- Industrial solvents
7. Cultivate a healthy lifestyle.
Every year, we have more options for home entertainment, from Netflix and gaming consoles to iPads and a world of gaming apps. At the same time, obesity rates – especially child obesity rates – are rising. A coincidence? We think not. Here are some ways to promote a healthy lifestyle at home.
- Monitor screen time, even your own!
- Reduce digital entertainment options and increase physical entertainment options. For example, you could cancel the cable subscription and purchase bicycles instead.
- Use parental controls to prevent unhealthy video game habits for children.
- Get the family outdoors with weekly cookouts, outdoor games like horseshoes, tag, soccer, catch, or swinging on swings!
- Incorporate healthy habits into the daily routine, such as an evening yoga session or regular walks.
- Cook healthy meals together.
Improving the health and safety conditions in your home will not only help in the immediate future, it is also a wonderful way to teach children lifelong habits for health and well-being. Read more about home and family on the Living Clean blog: